Fanfiction based in the world of Harry Potter, created by JKR. Her characters are hers. Original characters are mine. No pecuniary rewards. Please see first chapter for full disclaimers and description.
Thank you to my Betas, Elaine and JL. Any remaining errors are my own.
Please see my LiveJournal at weasleyfan for the author's notes related to this chapter. I simply did not want to put anything at the end of the end. Comments, 'fixes' and reviews will be lovingly adored forever. "Complete" in no way implies "perfect". I hope you have enjoyed this journey with me.
The sitting room was crowded and noisy as the occupants chatted and sipped on various beverages provided by an attentive house elf. Children ran noisily in one door and out the other, screaming and yelling.
Molly Weasley and Becky Lupin bustled about helping to keep children in line—or at least keep the noise to a dull roar.
Ron Weasley sat next to Hermione on a sofa near the window. They seemed to be the only couple in the room not chasing after screeching toddlers, but his eyes were nervously upon her more than on any other thing in the room. Hermione looked calm and radiant, her hands folded comfortably across the great swell of her abdomen, clearly late in pregnancy.
They had chosen to wait a while after finishing school, before having children, and now were happily expecting their first. Arthur Weasley and Dylan Howard sat near them, discussing some new legislation recently proposed at the Ministry.
Remus and Tonks Lupin chatted with Harry Potter and Ginny near a table covered with a wide variety of edibles. Tonks also appeared to be expecting; though she was still at the stage where no one would mention it unless they were absolutely certain... for fear of being mistaken.
"Things going okay at Hogwarts, Remus?" Harry asked conversationally.
"Better than could be expected," Remus said with his usual cheerfulness. "There will always be that little bit of rivalry between Slytherin and Gryffindor, but it's really much more of an intense but friendly competition these days, rather than the nastiness it used to be."
"It helps that the Heads of those two houses are brothers-in-law with wives who would let them have it if they didn't behave themselves," said Tonks with an outrageous wink to Harry and Ginny, who both laughed.
"Well, I think it was the obvious choice to make you Head of Gryffindor, Remus," said Ginny emphatically. "Once you were given the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, it just made sense. I mean, McGonagall couldn't do it anymore—the Headmistress of the school can't also be Head of a House."
"Yeah, but one thing I want to know," said Harry, looking inquisitively at Remus, "I heard Snape was offered the job before you were, when he took that year's sabbatical and they were trying to entice him back. How come he never took it, after wanting it so much for all those years?"
"I don't know," said Remus with a shrug. "I think, honestly, he never really wanted it that badly to begin with. Potions is his true passion as far as work goes. Severus is a perfectionist. I think he just hated seeing incompetence in the position. He did ask who would get the job if he refused. I've taken it as a high compliment he turned it down when he was told I was the next choice."
Ginny giggled. "Well, that's about the only kind of compliment he'd ever give—the kind which didn't require he actually SAY anything."
"Yeah, well, I still think he's awfully strict. Between McGonagall as Headmistress and him as Deputy Head, it's no wonder things are quiet around there."
They all chuckled their agreement.
Three little boys of about four years of age raced out of the house and down the steps of the porch. Bright sunshine illuminated a spacious garden with a swing hanging from one tall old tree, two fat ponies grazing lazily in its shade, and two little girls with dolls, fancy hats, and miniature tea things sitting beneath another. One of the little girls appeared several years older than all the other children, while the other was approximately the same age as the boisterous boys.
"Let's play Death Eaters and Phoenixes!" shouted one little boy exuberantly, when Molly had finally reached the end of her patience and banished them all outside so the adults could have some quiet within.
"No way, not if I have to be Moldy Voldy again!" sulked another little boy.
"You ought to be Voldemort, though. You are the only one who can do that thing with your eyes," reasoned a third boy, calmly.
All three were very similar in appearance, with very dark hair and comparable stature, leaving only the different eye colors to differentiate them to a stranger.
"I get to be the Hero that kills you!" shouted the first boy again, brandishing a branch 'wand', "Zap! Take that, you're a Muggle!"
"No! I'm not playing. You guys always kill me. It's not fair," said the second boy.
"C'mon, Sirius, you gotta do it," wheedled the first boy. He became over-enthusiastic with his wand and accidentally poked the boy called Sirius in the eye, who promptly ran off screaming into the house.
The girl with long blonde curls, who was clearly the elder of the two sitting beneath the tree, glanced up to watch the exchange among the boys with an air of resigned weariness. She glanced at her auburn-haired companion and they rolled their eyes at each other in a universal expression of exasperation. Without uttering a sound, their look clearly said, "Boys!"
The littler girl was unable to resist the temptation to needle the boy guilty of the assault, however, and called out to him.
"Now you've done it, James," she said in very superior tones. "Mummy's gonna be really mad. You're gonna get it!"
The boy called James ran around the corner of the house to try and hide behind an enormous rose bush.
Ginny came out onto the porch, her hands on her hips and scanned the garden angrily.
"James Potter, where are you? I want a word with you young man! Lily, where's your brother?" she asked, spotting her daughter sitting sedately under the tree.
The green-eyed child silently pointed to the bush her twin was hiding behind. Ginny marched over to it and grabbed James by his arm, dragging him back to the others. The brown-eyed boy glared at his sister for tattling and stuck his tongue out at her behind his mother's back. She shrugged unconcernedly and returned to adjusting her doll's hat.
Remus Lupin came of the house just as Ginny returned with her son. Remus was carrying Sirius, who had stopped crying. This child had hair so dark as to be almost black—as did all three of the boys—but his eyes were a clear, light gray.
"Is there a problem, boys?" Remus said calmly, setting Sirius down to face his friends. He shyly moved to stand behind his father's leg.
"James, I want you to apologize for hurting Sirius, right now," said Ginny, sternly. Harry Potter came out of the door just behind her and draped an arm over her shoulders, frowning down at his son.
"I didn't mean to! It was an accident!" the boy wailed, but quickly relented under the furious gaze of his parents. "Fine. Sorry, Sirius."
Sirius peeked out from behind his father's leg—only now his eyes weren't gray, but red, with slits like a cat's for pupils. He stuck out his tongue at James, but his tongue was thin and flat, forked at the tip like a snake's.
"Sirius, that's enough!" Remus said, looking down and catching him at it. "That is not funny. To you it's a game, to many people, it is very frightening. I don't want to see you do that again."
"Brian Albus Snape, I trust you are not being rude to our guests?" a deep voice lashed through the small crowd like a whip. Harry and Ginny jumped guilty, involuntarily.
"Daddy!" Two voices cried out the appellation in unison. The nearest voice came from the third boy, who had been quietly observing the scolding of his friends. The second came from the blonde girl who had so far been silent throughout the exchange. She jumped up from where she was sitting to run to the porch just behind her brother.
"Is the baby here?" they cried in unison.
"Would I be down here if she was not?" he asked sardonically.
"She? It's a girl? When can we see her? When?" both children grabbed his arms and jumped up and down with excitement. Severus allowed himself an indulgent smile.
"Yes, you have a sister. Your mother will be down shortly, as soon as your grandfather says she may, and then you can see the baby." The indulgent smile vanished in an instant and his intense gaze focused on his son. "Now, answer my question—were you being rude to your guests?"
Glittering black eyes peered down into matching ones looking up, the smaller set trying and failing to raise a brow in imitation of his father.
"No, I wasn't. We were playing and Sirius got hurt. It was just an accident, he's okay. But Uncle Remus doesn't like him doing that thing with his eyes to look like Voldemort. Why not? It's cool. I wish I could do that!"
Severus looked up and met Remus' sheepish expression. The werewolf shrugged.
"I don't know why he can't mimic something nice, like the violet eyes of a unicorn or something. He's got to do the monsters. White eyes like a Thestral. Gold eyes like a werewolf—well, okay, I suppose I know why he likes to do that one. But Voldemort's eyes? Anyone from the Ministry sees him doing that and we'll have Magical Law Enforcement crawling all over our house," Remus said in exasperation.
"They are just children playing, Lupin, lighten up," Severus smirked. Their relationship had improved tremendously over the years, but Severus still did not fail to barb him over his irresponsibility in his youth at every opportunity. "If you name a child after the world's greatest prankster, you have to accept the consequences."
Remus laughed as he followed Severus inside, the children still hanging excitedly on his arms and the others trickling in after them.
"That's rich! Coming from a man who named HIS son after arguably the most manipulative schemer ever to grace the Wizarding World."
"Only partially. Besides, I happened to highly admire Albus' skill at subtle manipulations—when he wasn't using the talent on ME."
"Why thank you, Severus," said the man in question from the large portrait hanging on an apparently false 'door' in the middle of one wall in the sitting room.
"All is quiet at the school, Albus?" Severus asked the portrait, ignoring his comment.
"Yes, yes. Nothing to worry about. Her timing was impeccable, right after your last exam. You'll have the whole summer holiday with your new baby. You may be the Deputy Headmaster and Head of Slytherin House, my boy, but there are still some priorities that come before your obligations to the school.
"Girl, I hear? Congratulations! Have you chosen a name?"
"Sonja Aryssain Snape," said Rowena, happily as she made her way carefully down the stairs. John Lupin supported her with one arm, carrying his new baby granddaughter in the other.
It could safely be said no one in the room had ever seen Severus move faster as he shook his arms free from his clinging children and all but pushed his way unceremoniously through the small crowd to take the stairs two at a time to reach her.
"I instructed you to wait for me," he scolded.
"I'm fine, Severus, just tired," she said happily.
He would have picked her up and carried her, but that seemed too undignified with so much company. Instead he carefully put a strong arm around her waist, supporting her tightly against his side, and held onto her hand with his other, guiding her down the stairs as though she was made of glass.
Once she was settled in an overstuffed chair in the center of the room, John gave her the baby, still bright-eyed and alert from birth with thick black hair. Brian climbed onto her lap as well, wanting to see the baby closer, while Katrina sat on the arm of the chair to stare raptly at her new baby sister.
Severus stood against the rail of the stairs, his arms crossed lazily over his chest, and simply watched his family as all their friends took turns to gawk and fuss over the new arrival. No one who saw him standing there would have doubted he was the proud father, regardless of the physical distance he kept. Rowena glanced up at him often to smile radiantly.
Slowly but surely, the crowd trickled away to leave the young family alone. Rowena moved to the sofa so Severus could sit by her. She lovingly handed him his infant daughter. Katrina sat at his side nearest Sonja's head, stroking the downy soft hair. Rowena snuggled against him, under his free arm. Brian sat on her lap, almost asleep from the excitement of the day. He reached his hand out and let Sonja's tiny fist close around his chubby finger.
"She's a very pretty baby, isn't she, mummy?" he said, sleepily. Severus had to swallow hard at the echoes of his child-self and a different Sonja Snape.
"Beautiful," Rowena agreed happily.
"See daddy?" said Katrina looking up at him impishly with her bright blue eyes. "I told you. Love makes a family."
He gave a small chuckle even in spite of the overwhelming emotions swelling within him.
"Indeed, Engelchen. Indeed."